The Mayapuris
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The Mayapuris

Alachua, Florida, United States | INDIE

Alachua, Florida, United States | INDIE
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Meet The Mayapuris

By Tom Crenshaw, tom@RockOm.net

The MayapurisWho are the The Mayapuris? They are an eclectic group of talented musicians who share their love of the sacred culture of kirtan through their music.

Where do they come from? The question is better answered in their own words:

"Where do we come from? Is it an esoteric question? Externally we as the Mayapuris are the product of our upbringing. Vish has an Indian father and an Italian-American mother, Kishor and Bali are brothers, one year apart, born from Colombian parents and Jagi is Venezuelan with Israeli descent. We grew up in temples, on farms, in villages, in cities surrounded by Krishna culture, playing mrdanga, singing, dancing, reveling in the joy of kirtan from birth until now. This is where we come from."

The Mayapuris are Vishvambhar Das (Vish), Balarama Tirtha Das (Bali), Krsna Kishore Das (Kish), and Jagannath Kirtan Das (Jagi). The group has been touring around the world performing with RockOm alum Gaura Vani & As Kindred Spirits on the Mantralogy Tour 09 and recently performed at the Bhakti Fest in Joshua Tree, California.

RockOm recently sat down with Kish and Vish of the Mayapuris to learn more about the group, the history of kirtan and to discuss why kirtan is so popular around the world. We also spoke about their upcoming time in the studio where they will begin recording their first CD on Mantralogy Records. Mayapuris dancer Vrinda Devi Doherty also joined us in this interview.

Tom: Tell us about your name, Mayapuris.

Vish: Mayapur is a place in west Bengal, on the banks of the Ganga where the sankirtan movement as we know it originated some 500 years ago. Mayapur is where Caitanya Mahaprabhu utilized kirtan as a non-violent response to the oppressive cultures in place as well as a protest to the caste social system. The people would take to the streets, sing and dance with the mrdunga drum. It was spiritual; anyone could join in and did. The Muslims, Hindus and all levels of social caste joined in. We took our name in honor of Mayapur. Most of the members have spent some time in Mayapur studying and going to school learning more of our instruments, visiting holy places and bathing in the Ganga.

Tom: You say on your website: “Finding our way home, to our true selves is a process.” How can music help us in that process?

Vish: Sound vibration is one of the most subtle elements in this world. Who we are as spiritual entities is beyond these material bodies made of the five gross elements. The strongest way to connect with that spiritual entity that we are is through the subtle vibration of sound. The mantras cut through the material elements and connects us with the spiritual elements. That connection is what is called yoga, that linking. So we are actually practicing a type of yoga, but it is kirtan - the yoga of sound, of becoming so close to that spiritual sound vibration that it removes those coverings, those layers and one realizes oneself in that process.

Kish: There are so many modern day distractions as the age we are in now progresses - the Kali Yuga age. It is very difficult sometimes to sit down, connect with yourself and get strength for meditation. The prescribed duty for this age is Yuga dharma sankirtan. Kirtan and sankirtan means “in union with people”. It’s the easiest and most fun way to surpass all material nature.

Vish: It’s joyfully performed. It’s really a blissful process. It’s a great way for everyone to come together and even though it’s such a serious thing - connecting with the Divine - it’s a fun process. Those who participate in kirtan automatically feel their soul stirred. Not only is the voice calling out but the soul is calling out as well in that love.

Tom: Vrinda, tell me what you feel when you are dancing.

Vrinda: It’s a progression. When I first start out dancing I’m dealing with how I feel while everyone is watching me. I’m suddenly vulnerable performing this spiritual dance. But as the music takes over I go beyond the vulnerability. I lose myself and it becomes a spiritual journey. Those who are in tune with their energy who have watched me say I am channeling diverse energies. I do that unconsciously because I am embodying the music and the energies come through me and are allowed to shine out.

Tom: Why is kirtan so popular? It’s resonating around the world. Why is that?

Kish: One of the main reasons is that kirtan is different. 40 years ago reggae wasn’t popular but through food, philosophy, music and lifestyle it clicked into society. I feel like with kirtan it is something that is naturally happening.

Vish: 500 years ago Caitanya predicted that this chanting would spread and be accepted in every town and village around the world. It’s happening. Caitanya also said that the sound of the mrdunga drum would resonate everywhere as well. We’re just part of that flow. We’re in the kirtan river wherever we go.

Vrinda: Also, Kirtan is based - RockOm.com


Discography

Mridanga - June 2010 by Mantralogy (Distributed by ADA)

Photos

Bio

500 years ago, a tradition of sacred music broke out of the strict confines of Indian temples and danced onto the streets of the revered city of Mayapur. Today, The Mayapuris, a fresh vibrant band of dancers and drummers, continue that revolution by invigorating mantras and songs of old with their own global experiences.

They weave dance, spoken word, and irresistible rhythm into their shows creating an incredible impression on audiences. Fans of all genres of music love what they do. Their sound is an ecstasy booster, a party, a musical bridge between everyday life and something greater.

Their debut album, Mridanga, soars with fiery vocals, earth-shaking rhythms and enchanting musical flavor. Named after a traditional clay and leather drum from India this album exemplifies the musical versatility and virtuosity of The Mayapuris. Special guests include Grammy-nominated Jai Uttal, Gaura Vani & As Kindred Spirits, and Benjy Wertheimer of Shantala.

Their album was a Top Feature on iTunes World Music Chart: http://www.mantralogy.com/mayapuris-snag-top-feature-on-itunes-world-music/

Rapidly ascending as one of the most popular kirtan/chant groups in the world, The Mayapuris have performed in diverse venues, from the inauguration-inspired Chant4Change event, to Bhakti Fest, to Beloved Festival, to Burning Man to Wanderlust. In just the past year they have played on stages on 6 continents. The Mayapuris are always eager to elate crowds with pulse-surging music as they roll along to the thunder of the mridanga drum.

See The Mayapuris’ drumming in action: http://www.youtube.com/user/Mayapuris#p/u/8/NzWNwSROehc

The Mayapuris 2011 Tour Teaser Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dYkdxJtxVs

"The Mayapuris are the young tigers of Kirtan [their style of music]. Their powerful and extremely moving music instantly transports me." – Jai Uttal (Grammy-nominated Musician)

“The Mayapuris are rocking the globe with their transforming rhythms of love. I feel blessed when they can join me on the road or at home for they elevate the energy herever they go.” - Shiva Rea (World-renowned Yoga Master and Trance Dance Innovator)

"The Mayapuris are shaking up the western world with their thunderous Mridanga drums! Their lively performance is making huge waves in the American yoga scene and beyond." - MC Yogi

"Singing with the Mayapuris awakens an urgency in me. It feels like our 5000-year old Kirtan tradition has been reinvented by these young, passionate, and beautiful artists. Explosive. Quixotic. Stunning." – Gaura Vani (Gaura Vani & As Kindred Spirits)

“They’ve touched me deeply, and they’ll do the same for you. Once you experience the magestic magic of The Mayapuris you’ll never, EVER forget it." – C.C. White

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In June 2009, The Mayapuris signed with Mantralogy - sub-label to admired punk label, Equal Vision Records.